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 The Tactical Traveler

joe A BUSINESS-TRAVEL BRIEFING
FOR APRIL 27, 2000


BY JOE BRANCATELLI

This week: The code-share shell game in Africa; American Airlines launches flights at Dallas/Love to harass Legend Airlines; Marriott Rewards launches elite levels; how to find hotels with high-speed Internet access; a calm oasis in South Florida; and much more.

COUNTER INTELLIGENCE: The Code-Shares Shell Game
Want a crystal-clear example of the anti-competitive nature of code-sharing? Cast your glance to Ghana, one of the dozens of sub-Saharan African nations that are not served by U.S. airlines. The United States reached an "open skies" agreement with Ghana in March and the treaty allows virtually unfettered competition on routes between the two nations. Ghana Airways, which currently flies four times weekly between New York and Accra, promptly announced it would add twice-weekly flights from Baltimore-Washington International beginning July 4. But has any U.S. carrier announced service to Ghana? Absolutely not. Even though no U.S. airline currently flies its own service anywhere in Africa south of the Sahara, there were no takers. Yet three U.S. airlines--American, Northwest and United--have applied for the right to code-share to Accra with their overseas partners. What good would the code-shares do for travelers? Nothing. They offer no new service, no new flights, no new competition, no additional convenience and certainly no better fares.

AIRPORT REPORT: Construction, Deconstruction and Competition
It's taken 20 years of squabbling, but work has begun on a new runway at Narita Airport near Tokyo. A $1 billion second terminal is now under construction at Munich. The Italian government completed the transfer of some--but not all--flights at Milan. Most flights now operate at far-out, unpopular Malpensa, but many remain at Linate, the close-in, frequently fogged-in, older facility. Most international carriers have rerouted their African flights to avoid Harare, which is plagued by high airport fees and the racial unrest in Zimbabwe. American Airlines says it will launch flights from Dallas/Love Field on May 1. American's flights, to Los Angeles and Chicago, exactly duplicate the 59-seat, all-first-class service launched last month by Legend Airlines.

MILES & POINTS: New Programs and New Wrinkles
Marriott Rewards will launch elite levels on June 1. The tiers are based strictly on the number of nightly stays. Fifteen nights at any participating Marriott brand earns silver status; gold status kicks in at 50 nights; and 75 nights are required for Platinum Elite status. US Airways says Dividend Miles members can now receive their monthly statements via e-Email. Travelers who sign up for the Email service before June 30 at the US Airways website receive a 500-mile bonus. Wyndham has launched By Request, a chain-wide recognition program. The company will continue awarding frequent-flyer miles, however. In fact, it is offering 1,500 miles a stay at Wyndham and Summerfield Suites hotels through June 30. Sol Melia, the Spanish chain which operates 250 hotels in 25 countries, has launched its MaS frequent-stay program in the United States. Travelers can sign up at the Sol Melia website. Canadian Airlines has abruptly exited the Canadian version of American Express Membership Rewards.

ON THE FLY: Business-Travel News You Need to Know
If you now make your booking decisions based on the availability of high-speed access in your hotel room--and an increasing number of business travelers do just that--you've probably already figured out that the Internet isn't too much help. Most hotel chains don't have a high-speed access page and there isn't a centralized hotel locator anywhere on the Net. But several of the companies that install the service have placed hotel locators on their own sites. These includes STSN, Wayport and CAIS Internet. Two other high-speed access companies--Lodgenet and OnCommand--don't offer hotel locators, however. ... Hoping to cop a cat nap on your next flight? Then you're a candidate for the Heavenly Headrest, an ingenious inflatable device that slips between airline seats. Once wedged between the seats, the "head support pillow" allows you to lean your head to the side and catch some Zzzzs. The Heavenly Headrest isn't perfect, though. Because it must be wedged between the seats, tall passengers will find the headrest too low to rest their heads. Including shipping and tax, the product costs $9.95. You can get complete details, view the product in action, and order at the Heavenly Headrest website.

WEEKLY WONDER: An Oasis of Calm in South Florida
Nestled on 300 acres equidistant from the Miami and Fort Lauderdale airports, Turnberry Isle Resort and Club (800-223-6800) is an oasis of calm in the maelstrom that is modern-day South Florida. The 395 rooms are extremely spacious and elegantly appointed and the grounds encompass a 117-slip marina, a spa, 19 tennis courts and two Robert Trent Jones-designed golf courses. Effective May 1, daily rates begin as low as $255 a night; they drop as low as $175 a night beginning June 1. There are also special packages available over the Memorial Day, July 4th and Labor Day holidays. For $898 a couple, the holiday deals include three nights of lodging, daily breakfast, champagne, several parties, and virtually unlimited golf and tennis.

This column originally appeared at biztravel.com.

Copyright 1993-2007 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.